Antitrust Task Force to Examine Longhorn Next

Microsoft and Department of Justice overseers will meet in mid-February to monitor potential antitrust issues around Microsoft's next major Windows release.

Although a first Longhorn beta release is still a number of months off, its not too soon to begin considering whether the next version of Windows might violate antitrust concerns. Plaintiffs who settled their antitrust case with Microsoft in 2001 will start evaluating Longhorns compliance in mid-February.

The U.S. Department of Justice and a handful of state governments settled their antitrust case against Microsoft in 2001. As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs and an appointed technical committee have been charged with monitoring Microsofts compliance with the settlement.

On Tuesday, the plaintiffs filed their fourth of the six-month joint status reports requested by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In it, the plaintiffs noted that they will hold the first of their briefings with Microsoft in mid-February on how Longhorn will comply with terms outlined in the final antitrust judgment.

"Plaintiffs have prepared a list of topics that relate to the final judgments that plaintiffs wish to track as Microsoft progresses in its development of Longhorn, enabling early detection and resolution of any potential areas of concern," according to the status report.

The plaintiffs provided this list to Microsoft, and the company has agreed to brief them regularly on these topics, the report said. The briefings are expected to continue throughout the Longhorn development and test cycle, according to the report.

Longhorn client is expected to go to external beta testers in the second or third quarter of this year, according to sources. Microsoft is expected to ship the final release by the third quarter of 2006.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about the Longhorn delay and how its affecting developers.

The joint status report included a number of updates on other Microsoft monitoring efforts.

Since the last full status report, filed July 9, 2004, regulators have received 23 complaints involving Microsofts compliance with the final antitrust judgments. But the plaintiffs found all 23 complaints to be non-substantive.

On the Windows XP SP2 (Service Pack 2) front, in terms of how Microsofts most recent service pack deals with competing middleware and defaults, the plaintiffs have found some areas for concern, according to the report.

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